Inauguration Day at the Bronx UFT Headquarters 2009
By Phyllis C. Murray
Inauguration Day 2009 was celebrated at the Bronx UFT Headquarters. Jose Vargas, UFT Bronx Borough Representative, described the Inauguration of President Barack Obama as a historic event. And surely it was a momentous occasion. It was the culmination of months of political action events put on by members and friends of the United Federation of Teachers. It was also a mission accomplished: Barack Obama, the candidate endorsed by the UFT, was officially sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.
President Obama’s concept of change has a special meaning to trade unionists. “Change does not come from the top down,” said Obama, “change comes from the bottom up. Change doesn’t happen just because someone in Washington says it should. Change starts when you teach a child to read or register to vote,when you heal broken bodies and troubled sprits, organize communities and allow people to join unions.” And that is exactly what the members of the United Federation of Teachers continue to do in an effort to affect change in their school communities and in the nation. Paul Egan, a UFT Bronx District Representative, leads the political action work at the Bronx Borough Office. He spoke of the political action that UFTers participated in as they joined in the campaign to elect Barack Obama. He spoke of the phone banks, voter registration drives, and door-to-door initiatives to get out the vote. That work will continue as UFTers continue to face the myriad budget cuts of the future.
President Obama said the following:” It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.” And that has always been the quest of UFT members as they witness their students learn at every turn. UFTers, as agents of change, allow their voices to be heard in Albany, in Washington, D.C., and in City Hall. And through it all, UFTers are preparing their students for a future that is not their own.
Therefore, on Inauguration Day, we applaud President Barack Obama, who reminds us that “there is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America—there’s the United States of America.”
President Obama has spoken the words trade unionists have waited a long time to hear. And we concur: “Despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead, we are as hopeful as ever that the United states will endure, that it will prevail.” And we will be there to work with the President “so that the dream of our founders will live on.” #
Phyllis C. Murray teaches literacy at PS 75 in the Bronx, where she has been the chapter leader for seven years.